Australian VFX companies have worked on seven of the 15 feature films in consideration for this year's Academy Award for achievement in visual effects.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences VFX shortlist included four films which featured Fuel VFX's work (Captain America: The First Avenger, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Cowboys & Aliens and Thor), two films which featured RSP's effects (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), and one film which featured Animal Logic's work (Sucker Punch).

Among those films, Captain America: The First Avenger represented Fuel VFX's biggest job: the company created 120 shots across six sequences. One of its most ambitious scenes was the bike chase scene where Captain America was chased back to base by enemy 'hydrobikers', requiring 70 shots and complex plate manipulation for compositing and integration.

Adelaide-based RSP contributed 63 shots to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (it also worked on Part 1). Creating the evil dementors was a core part of its work as well as the title sequence which opened the film. Other effects included an 'apparate' effect to turn Severus Snape into a dark, shadowed creature of cloth and smoke.

Animal Logic created the dragon fantasy sequence in Sucker Punch, which included 164 shots over 12 minutes. The company built all the characters, a mother dragon, a baby dragon, orcs, knights and digital doubles for all the cast.

The full list of films on the Academy shortlist are:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Hugo
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Real Steel
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • Sucker Punch
  • Super 8
  • Thor
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Tree of Life
  • X-Men: First Class

The list will be cut to 10 films in early-January, 2012, by the Academy's visual effects branch executive committee before the final five films are selected on January 19. The final Academy Awards nominations will be announced on January 24 and presented on February 26.

Correction: The original story neglected to include Animal Logic's work on Sucker Punch, which has now been added.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bcswift.

Check out the current issue of IF Magazine (Dec 2011 – Jan 2012) for a VFX feature on Cowboys & Aliens.

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